Sunday, June 13, 2010

Frittata: The Vegetarian's Meatloaf

Since I became vegetarian in January, Frittatas have become my new meatloaf. My go-to dish. The entrée I whip out when I don’t have a lot of time or imagination. Like meatloaf, frittatas are made from whatever ingredients you have on hand, they have a short prep time, and a little bit of oven time to give you a chance to gather your wits about you (read: drink a glass of wine and check out the newspaper).
                Similar to quiche, frittatas are egg-based and can be the vehicle in which to hide all kinds of edible treasures from meat to veggies to cheese or all of the above. Most frittatas are started on top of the stove and finished in the oven. That’s how I do mine, although you can do the entire dish from start to finish on the stovetop. Unlike quiche, frittatas are generally not known to have a crust. Mine does. So if you are a frittata purist stop reading now. You’ll see my version as an abomination.
                My frittata recipe culminated out of my love for all things hash browned. As far as I am concerned, no egg-y meal is really complete without hash browns on the side.  The crunchier the better, I figure. And so I played with my food one afternoon and conceived this fine frittata with a hash brown crust. I hope you enjoy it.

Hash Brown-Crusted Frittata
2 medium-sized russet potatoes
6-8 eggs, beaten and set aside
1-2 C veggies of your choice, lightly sautéed and set aside
1 C cheese of your choice
Herbs of your choice
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Microwave the potatoes on high for 3 minutes. They should be softened, but not cooked all the way to a mashable stage. Handling them carefully so as not to burn your hands, grate the potatoes on the large side of a cheese grater. You can leave the peels on or take them off.
Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium high. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter. Swirl it around to coat the pan. Transfer the grated potatoes to the skillet, patting it down into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. DO NOT STIR AFTER THIS POINT! After about 4 or 5 minutes, gently tilt the pan that you can glimpse the underside of the potatoes. Are they getting brown and crisp? Keep checking until they look like golden, brown and delicious hash browns.
In another oven-safe skillet (cast iron is really the best), heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon butter. Drizzle it over the potatoes in the non-stick pan. Then carefully invert the second skillet over the first one and flip over. Now your potatoes are in the second skillet and on their way to hash brown perfection.
Once you are satisfied that the potatoes are well-browned on the underside, remove the pan from the heat. Arrange the reserved veggies, cheese, herbs and spices over the potatoes. Pour the eggs over the mixture and lightly tamp down anything that’s sticking up out of the eggs. If you need more eggs, go ahead and beat them up and pour them in.
Put the frittata in the preheated oven and bake until the eggs are set, usually about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to finish cooking in the pan on the counter. 

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